Hello again, boys and girls. Here is part 2 of the author Q&A. You already know the authors (if you don’t or you want to see part 1 check out last week’s post), so on we go.
4. When you write a story, do you write with the intention of getting published, or simply write for your own pleasure? If the latter, do you go back and rewrite stories to prepare them for publishing?
Kat: My whole purpose for writing started with a desire to be published. I know so many say that’s backward, that you should write for the love of it. But for me, the love of writing came AFTER the desire for publication. I don’t generally write stories for specific markets, but I do write each story assuming I will look for a home for it. I figure, if I have no intention of publishing a story, then why bother putting it on paper? If I’m the only one who is ever going to read it, I can just write it in my head and leave it there.
Sandra: Definitely to get published. There’s nothing more rewarding than developing our God-given gift for writing and seeing it materialize in print. Seems we all have a need to leave a legacy . . . bear a child, plant a tree, write a book! As for going back and rewriting stories . . . listen to your gut. Is it a story that needs to be written? Often it’s more inspiring and fun to move on.
Beverly: Always, always with the intention of being published. I find it makes everything higher quality. Just preparing a sample to take to a critique group, I
pour pore over every sentence and paragraph. If I present a shabby sample, I waste our time. I’ve even edited my own shopping lists. J/K . . . or am I?
Deborah: Usually publication
Geez! We’ve got a set of ambitious people here! -M.R. Anglin
5. How long does it usually take for you to write a novel and is it a good idea to write two pieces at the same time? I mean, do you ever get confused or mixed up or can’t find the time for both? If so, how do you deal with it?
Kat: The length of time it takes for writing a novel varies from writer to writer and novel to novel. My first draft of my first novel was done in three months. But editing it took years, as I kept going back through every time I learned more about writing. The second novel was started while editing the first one, and I worked on it off and on over the course of a few years, but the actual time spent on it, including editing, was probably only a few months. I have a third novel in the works, which I started before finishing the editing on book one and the writing of book two. Do I get them confused? Nope. As for balancing my time on them, I simply work on what I’m in the mood to work on, keeping deadlines in mind.
Sandra: I’m very single minded. One project at a time. Keeps me focused. As for a timeframe, my first manuscript took years, my second about a year, my third I wrote in five months, but find it still needs a little work. My personal feeling is that it’s far more important to write a good book than to write a book fast. It takes time to learn how to write fast and well.
Beverly: Having written two books at the same time, I can definitely speak to that. And I wrote those while I was working a day job. So no, I don’t have any trouble keeping my work separate. What I do have trouble with is keeping all the ideas for new projects, new episodes of “Castle,” or reading every. thing. published. from distracting me. Discipline, organization, and hide the television remote!
Deborah: It takes me about a year to write and edit a book, but I have a lot of things going on in my life. I am working on two projects now, but one is fiction and the other is non-fiction.
6. Would you recommend that unpublished authors publish with a smaller company within their state (for a local audience), or with a large nation-wide one, such as Scholastic (for a more widely-spread audience but less individual attention by the company)?
Kat: I’m not sure what a local/state publishing company is. Small presses can publish internationally these days. I am with a small press. My books are found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble’s website, and many others.
Benefits of small press publishing include more say during the editing process, more say on cover art, more involvement in just about all the process. You can also reach niche markets more easily. Small presses give more control to the author.
But you won’t have the marketing power of a large publisher. Small presses tend to have small budgets.
Also, it’s a matter of who wants your book.
Sandra: Not sure if we’re on the same page here. My debut series takes place in my hometown in southern Minnesota; however, I live in California. The bulk of my marketing is focused on my hometown and surrounding areas.
Beverly: I’ve had experience with both smallish and largish sizes of book publishers, and I can tell you that in my case, the size or location doe not matter. What does? EVERY author is expected to market, market, sell, and market some more. Oh, and write that next book. Newbies, celebrities, every one of us are expected to. Except Stephen King. He can just keep writing. He has earned that right.
Deborah: Whatever suits the needs of the author.
7. Should unpublished authors who do not feel they could make a living on their writing alone pursue a career such as becoming an editor for other writers?
Kat: Well, you need to think about why you can’t make a living on your writing. Is it because your story telling or writing skills are lacking? Editors aren’t failed writers who defaulted into the job. Editing takes real skill. Not all editors are great writers, but it cannot be looked at as a back-up plan for those who don’t do well as a writer. It requires its own type of training and knowledge, and a real ability to find what does and doesn’t work in someone else’s writing. And it is something you must love doing because it is HARD WORK.
Sandra: There’s much to learn in any field we choose that can become invaluable in our writing . . . we learn about people, about how different industries work. I wouldn’t limit the possibilities.
Beverly: First of all, do not make the assumption that you cannot make a living writing. That could be whatchacallit, self-fulfilling. And I will not play armchair psychologist beyond that. But just don’t. That said, yes, I believe nowadays, every single skill helps. I’ve grown as a writer by hiring out as a freelance content editor. (My proofing skills would not make my English teachers proud, so don’t ask me to do that.) But the ability to work through a story, articulate what characters need to deepen the interest, what plot threads need tightening, is like practicing your tennis with someone who is learning to serve. You can’t help but get better at your own game.
Deborah: Very few authors make a living at just writing books.
8. What is the best way to start a career in writing?
Kat: Write. Read. A lot. Study the craft. Find amazing critique partners. Write more. Read more. Bust your tail writing. Write the best book you can possibly write, polish it to the brightest shine, and start submitting it. Oh, and remember, even doing all that will not guarantee anything.
Sandra: Read how-to books on writing, attend writers conferences, get in a good writers critique group, submit articles to magazines, enter contests, and read, read, read.
Beverly: Have your head examined. Seriously, it’s a tough, brutal business. If the urge doesn’t pass and you must continue, then take a class or several, get in a critique group (a real one with scary people who carry red pens, not a rubber stamping club), go to writer’s conferences, and begin introducing yourself as a writer. Oh, and sit down and write, and write until you are finished. And then begin something new. And show said pieces to said scary people with red pens. You will survive. No tombstones say, “Died of embarrassment at first writer’s group.” I’m fairly certain. And read. Read about writing, and read what other people are writing in your genre(s).
Deborah: (not sure about this one)
Let’s all give a round of applause to these lovely ladies for answering! Thank you, authors. And I hope you writers out there are enjoying these answers.
Next week, we’ll finish it up!